One day, a TCS employee went to a zoo with a few friends. Coming across a
nonchalant elephant, the friends decided to test their skills. The first task
was to make the elephant laugh; of the lot the TCS chap whispered something in
the elephants large ears and the tusker was rolling in mirth while pointing
fingers at him. Next task was to make the elephant sob; again the TCS guy was
successful as he had the poor elephant weeping copious tears in no time. The
final task was to make the elephant take to its heels. Needless to say, the TCS
guy was yet again successful with yet another whisper. Seeing the astonishment
of his friends, the TCS guy explained, The first time I made it laugh, I said I
work for TCS. When I made it cry as if it were very sad and patted me, I told it
how much I get paid. And it ran because, I told him that HR guys were here and
For years, the above-mentioned joke has been quoted to highlight how ill paid
TCS employees are. Even for that matter, company officials at TCS do not really
try and dispel that notion. Or probably they do not need to, because in spite of
all these notions and perceptions, TCS has been recruiting in quite significant
numbersit added some 35,000 employees in FY 2007-08. In fact, in the same year,
the company crossed the landmark figure of one lakh employees (111,407 employees
to be precise), making it the largest private employer in India. There would be
barely a handful of companies that have such an employee base in India and even
globally. The company had crossed the 10,000 employee mark in 1996-97, and has
grown nearly ten-fold in the last ten years.
What is notable about the companys achievement is that while it has been
able to accelerate recruitment in a major way, the company has also been able to
clamp down attrition at the same time. Currently, the attrition rate stands at
12.6%, including the BPO, among the lowest in the industry.
Much credit is due to the HR policies followed at TCS that have been able to
hire as well as retain employees. Ritu Anand, vice president and deputy head,
Global HR, TCS, says, Our HR practices and policies have evolved from being
paternalistic and controlled to being participative and finally engaging. It has
been our earnest endeavor to be known as a peoples company.
An important aspect about retention, according to Ritu, is simply the ability
to listen, to be attuned to the needs and grievances of the workforce.
The spread of TCS is also a major factor in its ability to hold on to its
employees. The company has also put in place a job rotation policy that allows
movement across different job roles and functions.
Expanding the Talent Pool
Established in 1968, TCS has played a major role in shaping the IT
revolution in India. Indeed, the companys first general manager, FC Kohli, is
also known as the father of Indian software industry. Thus, in some ways, TCS
is not only an Indian IT company but also an institution that has helped shape
the IT revolution. As part of its responsibility, TCS actively collaborates with
academia and educational institutions toward creating an ecosystem that nurtures
talent and enhances suitability of the talent pool in the country.
The company has put in place the academic interface program (AIP) under which
student development and faculty development workshops are conducted,
academicians are sponsored to take sabbaticals, and an annual meet, called
Sangam, of heads of institutes is organized. The company has also developed a
faculty development program (FDP) to collaborate with select universities in
conducting custom-made course curriculum to be taught to students in engineering
colleges in smaller towns in India.
Additionally, TCS launched a major drive, dubbed Ignite, with the objective
of creating an alternative talent pool through the recruitment of science
graduates and enhancing suitability of this untapped resource through a training
program. TCS employees are also encouraged to pursue education through rigorous
training programs or external sponsored ones.
There are also a number of leadership development programs designed to
identify potential leaders and take them through comprehensive training sessions
to develop a leadership pool in the
|Our HR practices and policies
have evolved from being paternalistic and controlled to being participative
and engaging. It has been our earnest endeavor to be known as a peoples
Ritu Anand, vice president and deputy
We are consistently investing in learning. It is an effort because as the
experience of people is growing in the technology space, we invest in their
softskills and behavioral competency upgrades so that people are ready to lead
large teams and be ready to head a geography or vertical. There are different
levels of training programs under the leadership space. We have invested in it
heavily and have made it mandatory that the employees spend a minimum of 10-15
days in a year in learning and acquiring skills, says Ritu.
All trainees in the company undergo a 52-day training as part of the Initial
Learning Program when they join TCS has set up ILP centers in the US, Hungary,
China, and Uruguay to meet the training needs of its global workforce. According
to Anand, close to 2% of the companys revenue is invested on training and
development (that translates into a whopping $100 mn).
Work Hard, Party Harder
Over all these years, the company has acquired an image of seriousness.
The workplace is thought to be full of middle-aged brainy engineers
tickering-tackering over the keyboard. Anand, along with her team, is
consciously trying to change that image, and Maitree is helping them do it in a
major way. Maitree is an employee engagement initiative that has multiple
programs within it. To begin with, the HR team comes out with an annual calendar
of events aimed at engaging employees and promoting the fun culture. In fact,
fun at work is facilitated through different clubs or events happening at any
given moment in time. Besides, the Maitree umbrella also conducts activities
like family day, technology month, health month, womens day, New Year
celebrations, Kaleidoscope for kids, sports month, and other local festival
About 6-7 years ago, we felt that we were working too much and we needed to
loosen up and have some fun. So from small events in different regions the fun
at work started. Gradually, it mushroomed into a monthly calendar. At the
beginning of the year we publish a calendar where we mention what activities are
scheduled for the year. At that time we wanted people to consciously invest time
toward having some fun at work and bond with one another. So, this became such a
hit that now we have a family day, a health month, environment month and special
programs such as Lets Share, Mission You in the UK. Because we made it mandatory
by publishing a calendar, we dont forget it. Now, after all these years, it has
become institutionalized and people are now proactively trying out new fun
activities, says Ritu.
Considering the size and spread of the organization, it is hardly possible to
capture all the work done by Indias premier IT company in a few pages.
Nonetheless, it would be appropriate to say that much like the transformation
TCS is bringing about globally, it is transforming itself. The company is not
only being more attuned to the needs and requirements of its client spread
across the globe, but also the scores of its employees that are spread out.
It is indeed time now, to bury the elephant joke or probably now the elephant
will be scampering to the nearest TCS office to know that the company is
recruiting and sob on not seeing its name on the list of those who were